Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Texas Regulations Require Cremation or Burial of Aborted Fetuses

Washington Post (November 29, 2016): After months of controversy, Texas will require aborted fetuses to be cremated or buried, by Samantha Schmidt:

On Monday, Texas officials finalized a new rule that prohibits the disposal of fetal remains as medical waste, requiring that the remains be buried or cremated.  Like TRAP regulations, the new rule makes it more expensive and difficult for abortion providers to operate without addressing health concerns or creating a health benefit.  However, unlike other TRAP regulations, the rule appears specifically designed to send a message about fetal life. After receiving extensive comments, Governor Greg Abbott approved the proposal with little notice stating that fetal remains should not be "treated like medical waste and disposed of in landfills."

Like other regulations drafted to promote an ideological view, as originally drafted, the regulations did not address some of the practical difficulties of imposing cremation and burial requirements for fetal tissue.   Texas officials received more than 35,000 comments since the regulations were proposed in early July.  The final regulations do not apply to miscarriages and abortions that take place at home.  They also do not require that death certificates be filed.  

Opponents of the rule point out that cremating or burying fetal remans can cost several thousand dollars, which will increase the operating costs of hospitals and abortion providers.  While some women may wish to bury a fetus following a miscarriage or abortion, it is problematic to force all women to do so.  

Women who attended [a hearing on the regulations] in August provided testimonials with mixed responses and personal details. One woman said she felt a great deal of closure burying a fetus after she had a miscarriage. Another said she had an abortion after she was raped, and that if she had been forced to bury the fetus it would have “essentially been the state of Texas rubbing my face in my own rape.”

The Texas rule takes effect Dec. 19.  The rule is likely to face legal challenge.  An Indiana law that requires the burial or cremation of fetal tissue and prohibits abortions sought solely because of a fetal disability was preliminarily last June. 

November 30, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Tuesday, November 29, 2016

CO Planned Parenthood Shooter Still Awaits Trial; Dr. Tiller's Murderer Gets a Lighter Sentence

Rewire (November 28, 2016): A Year After the Colorado Planned Parenthood Shootings, Still No Trial in Sight, by Jessica Mason Pieklo:

On November 17, 2015, Robert Lewis Dear, Jr. opened fire in a Colorado Springs Planned Parenthood, killing three people.   He faces 179 criminal counts, including murder and attempted murder.  However, he still not been brought to trial because District Court Judge Gilbert Martinez  has found that Dear is not mentally competent to stand trial.

Dear's statements and actions suggest that he was fully aware of his actions and that he carefully planned his attack.  He has asserted that his acts were justified to to prevent legal abortions.  Although Dear's attorneys have maintained the insanity defense.  Dear has indicated that he wants to go to trial.  He faces another competency evaluation in early 2017.

Meanwhile, Scott Roeder who shot and killed Dr. George Tiller in 2009 recently had his sentence reduced.  Dr. Tiller was one of a few doctors performing late-term abortions and was shot while ushering in his church.  When Roeder was convicted of first degree murder in 2010, the judge imposed an "upward departure" from the guidelines because of the disturbing nature of the crime, imposing a 50 year sentence with no chance of parole.  Because a 2013 Supreme Court case now requires that such sentences be imposed by juries and not judges, Roeder was scheduled to have a jury re-sentence him.  In order to avoid the resentencing, the state withdrew its request for a 50 year sentence.  As a result Roeder will be eligible for parole after serving 25 years.

The state's decision denies Roeder a public platform to disseminate his views.  Roeder has stated he has no regrets and was looking forward to being "another voice for the unborn."  District Attorney Marc Bennett told CBS News  that Roeder has prostate problems and that his declining health makes it unlikely that he will ever get out of prison.

Bennett also read a statement from Tiller’s family saying nothing will change the fact Tiller was assassinated, and the family continues to grieve his loss. The family cited the “very difficult and emotionally draining trial” in which Roeder was found guilty, and thanked people involved with ensuring it was a fair trial.


November 29, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

International Human Rights and the Mistreatment of Women during Childbirth

Health and Human Rights Journal (November 14, 2016): International Human Rights and the Mistreatment of Women during Childbirth:

Rajat Khosla, Christina Zampas, Joshua P. Vogel, Meghan A. Bohren, Mindy Roseman and Joanna N. Erdman have authored a new article summarizing current international human rights standards concerning the mistreatment of women during childbirth.  Here's the abstract:

International human rights bodies have played a critical role in codifying, setting standards, and monitoring human rights violations in the context of sexual and reproductive health and rights. In recent years, these institutions have developed and applied human rights standards in the more particular context of maternal mortality and morbidity, and have increasingly recognized a critical human rights issue in the provision and experience of care during and after pregnancy, including during childbirth. However, the international human rights standards on mistreatment during facility-based childbirth remain, in an early stage of development, focused largely on a discrete subset of experiences, such as forced sterilization and lack of access to emergency obstetric care. As a consequence, the range of mistreatment that women may experience has not been adequately addressed or analyzed under international human rights law. Identifying human rights norms and standards related to the full range of documented mistreatment is thus a first step towards addressing violations of human rights during facility-based childbirth, ensuring respectful and humane treatment, and developing a program of work to improve the overall quality of maternal care. This article reviews international human rights standards related to the mistreatment of women during childbirth in facility settings under regional and international human rights law and lays out an agenda for further research and action.

November 22, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 18, 2016

Some I.V.F. Experts Discourage Multiple Births

New York Times (Oct. 10, 2016): Some I.V.F. Experts Discourage Multiple Births, by Jane Brody:

In vitro fertilization has many happy stories to recommend it, but it fails more often than it succeeds.  Among its other problems is the high incidence of multiple pregnancy, a result of the practice of placing two or more embryos into the uterus in each cycle, in the hopes of achieving success.  High-order births are associated with a host of problems, including poor health and development delays, not to mention the threat to the health of a woman who carries a multiple pregnancy to term and is faced with prospect of parenting more than one infant after birth.  In the United States, 41.1 percent of all I.V.F. births are multiples.  

New research shows that single-embryo transfer in women younger than 38 "resulted in a marked reduction in multiple birthrates but no decline in live birthrates."  With education and an insurance industry more willing to cover the costs of I.V.F.,   the rate of multiple births could decline.  The infertility industry, however, still thirsty for statistics that will attract consumers, continues to shun single-embryo transfer.

November 18, 2016 in Assisted Reproduction | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Roe v. Wade isn't doomed under Trump. But it's not safe either.

Vox (Nov. 11, 2106): Roe v. Wade isn't doomed under Trump.  But it's not safe either, by Emily Crockett:

Julie Rikelman of the Center for Reproductive Rights and Jessica Mason Pieklo of Rewire weigh in on litigation challenges to Roe v. Wade.  Based upon the power of precedent, the current alignment of the Court and the difficulty and rarity of the Court hearing an abortion case, Rikelman thinks it's unlikely that Roe will be reversed and that Planned Parenthood v. Casey's undue burden standard will remain in effect.  Assuming that President-elect Trump appoints a Justice opposed to abortion, there would still be a 5-member majority on the Court who recently decided Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, affirming and clarifying Casey's undue burden standard.   Even if Roe, itself is not in danger, it is likely that abortion opponents will develop new strategies to chip away at it indirectly. One way states are currently seeking to weaken current protections for abortion is through laws that try to ban abortions at 20 week or ban dilation and extraction (D&E) abortions, the most common method of performing a second trimester abortion.  With their majority in Congress, Republicans may try to pass national versions of these laws.  If such a law passes, pro-choice advocates would have to decide whether or not to challenge the law - taking a chance of a negative Supreme Court ruling - or of letting the law remain in effect unchallenged, denying access to abortion for women who decide late in pregnancy to have an abortion (often for reasons like a serious or fatal fetal anomaly) or women who discovered a pregnancy late or could not raise the funds for an earlier abortion.  

November 15, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Monday, November 14, 2016

Should Young Women Sell Their Eggs?

New York Times (Oct. 20, 2016): Should Young Women Sell Their Eggs?, by Donna de la Cruz:

The difficulty of donating eggs cannot be underestimated.  Donors are scrutinized for their looks, mental health and academic prowess and must undergo painful injections and egg extraction.  There is a catalog of short-term risks ranging from vaginal dryness to ovarian hyperstimulation syndrome, but the long-term risks are largely unknown, though infertility and cancer are feared.  Research is scant, though some donors do report their own struggle with infertility after donating their eggs to others.  Reactions to the procedure are mixed, with about half of donors reporting in one small study that they regret having had the procedure.  Feminists are also of different opinions about egg donation.  One view holds that women should be able to sell their eggs because “'[t]here are a lot of things people are allowed to do with their bodies for money that are risky: pro sports for example, being a firefighter.'”  Others feel that egg donation is simply another iteration of the exploitation of women's bodies.       


November 14, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 11, 2016

Will Changes to the ACA Make It Even Harder to Get Contraception?

(November 10, 2016): Despite the Affordable Care Act's requirement that insurance companies cover contraception, prior to the election, there was already concern that many women do not have access to contraception.  Now, with the threat that President-elect Trump will seek to dismantle the ACA or target its inclusion in health care plans, these concerns have only increased. ABC News is reporting a spike in computer searches for long-acting birth control and social media posts that "women get an intrauterine device (IUD) which can 'outlast' a conservative presidency."

Even with the ACA, women with insurance faced high copayments and deductibles and other barriers to getting prescriptions. An estimated 20 million women in need of publicly funded live in counties that are  "contraceptive deserts" which the National Campaign to Prevent Teen and Unplanned Pregnancy defines as places without one public clinic per 1,000 women.

November 11, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Friday, November 4, 2016

Colombia is Hit Hard by Zika, but Not by Microcephaly

New York Times (Oct. 31): Colombia is Hit Hard by Zika, but Not by Microcephaly, by Donald G. McNeil and Julia Symmes Cobb:

Colombia has suffered the world's second largest outbreak of Zika after Brazil. Yet, while more than 2,000 babies with microcephaly have been born in Brazil, in Colombia there have been only 47.  What accounts for the difference? Colombia had more time to prepare for the virus, allowing Colombian women to delay pregnancy, but they may also have chosen abortion at greater rates. 

Dr. Fernando Ruiz, Colombia’s vice minister for public health, . . . says that it is “very possible” that abortions lowered the microcephaly rate here.

“Colombia has some of the most progressive laws and regulations in South America,” he said in an interview. With gynecologists alert to the threat, he said, many women had ultrasounds early enough to made decisions.

Even a very small increase in the abortion rate could account for a sharp reduction in microcephaly.

Abortion is legal in Colombia to protect the mother's health and the health ministry "considers a severely deformed baby a threat to maternal well-being."  Although only a small number of abortions are reported in Colombia (only 320 were reported in 2011), Guttmacher Institute estimates that there are more than 400,000 abortions in Colombia each year. Most abortions take place outside of the clinical setting through the use of misoprostol.  Doctor are not legally required to report prescriptions of misoprostol, and it is also available from illegal providers.  Health officials in Colombia also think that women may have delayed pregnancy although statistics are not yet available to confirm if there was a drop in the birth rate.

November 4, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Call for Authors for Volume of Rewritten Reproductive Justice Opinions

The U.S. Feminist Judgments Project seeks contributors of rewritten judicial opinions and commentary on those opinions for an edited collection entitled Feminist Judgments: Rewritten Reproductive Justice (working title). This edited volume, proposed to be published by Cambridge University Press, is part of a collaborative project among law professors and others to rewrite, from a feminist perspective, key judicial decisions.  Volumes in the series will focus on different courts or different subject matters. This call is for contributions to a volume of reproductive justice (RJ) decisions rewritten from a feminist perspective.

Reproductive Justice volume editor Kimberly Mutcherson seeks prospective authors for 15 rewritten RJ-related opinions covering a range of topics. With the help of an advisory committee, the editor has already selected 15 cases to be rewritten.  The current list of cases and a list of cases that the editor and advisory committee considered, but that (sadly) did not make the final cut, can be found here.  As is necessary in a text focused on RJ, the volume editor conceives of feminism broadly as multiple movements concerned with justice and equality. Further, as befits an RJ focused volume, authors should be prepared to rewrite cases in a way that brings into focus intersectionality, gender, race, class, disability, gender identity, age, sexual orientation, national origin, histories of incarceration, immigration status, and beyond.

Those who are interested in rewriting an opinion or providing the commentary on one of the rewritten RJ cases should complete the submission form found here.

Applications are due by November 21, 2016 at 5:00 p.m. (EST). The editor expects to notify accepted authors and commentators no later than December 16, 2016. First drafts of rewritten opinions will be due on June 2, 2017. First drafts of commentaries will be due on August 4, 2017.

If you have questions about the project, please feel free to contact Kimberly Mutcherson at [email protected].

November 2, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (1)

Catholic Health System Charged With Denying Care to Pregnant Woman With Brain Tumor

ACLU (Oct. 25. 2015): ACLU Files Complaint Against Catholic Health System for Deny Care to Pregnant Woman With Brain Tumor, by Jessica Mann:

 The ACLU has filed a complaint with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Civil Rights Office against Ascension Health for refusing medically necessary treatment to a pregnant woman on religious grounds. 

According to the ACLU: 

When Jessica Mann was pregnant with her third child, her OB-GYN strongly recommended that she undergo a tubal ligation because of a pre-existing brain tumor that could be life-threatening when strained by pregnancy. Her doctor also advised her to have the procedure performed at the time of her C-section delivery, when it is safest and most effective.  But Genesys refused to allow Mann’s OB-GYN to perform the tubal ligation because Ascension and Genesys are governed by religious rules developed by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops that classify common reproductive health services as “intrinsically evil.”

The ACLU argues that Ascension’s policy banning tubal ligations at the time of delivery discriminates against women on the basis of sex and violates the  non-discrimination protections of Section 1557 of the Affordable Care Act. Ascension is the largest non-profit health system in the United States and its policies have a big impact on women who may not know that their health care provider is governed by religious rules or may not have an option of an alternative provider.


November 2, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Tuesday, November 1, 2016

HHS Nominee Tom Price, A Step Backwards for Reproductive Health

Atlantic (November 30, 2016): Tom Price: 'Not One Woman' Struggled to Afford Birth Control, by Olga Khazan:

The New York Times has suggested that Donald Trump's nomination of Tom Price for secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services "signaled an undiminished determination" to repeal the Affordable Care Act.  In Congress, Price has championed alternative legislation to the ACA which would take a free market approach and decrease consumer protections and mandated coverage.

While repeal of the ACA would require Congressional action, as HHS Secretary Price could have an immediate impact on the implementation of the ACA because the act gives the Secretary discretion in how it is administered.

Price is on record as opposing the ACA's birth control mandate and may support defunding Planned Parenthood or requiring co-pays for contraceptives.  In 2012, he made made comments that all women can afford birth control, stating:

“Bring me one woman who has been left behind. Bring me one. There’s not one,” Price replied. “The fact of the matter is this is a trampling on religious freedom and religious liberty in this country.”

Despite Price's statement, studies show that poor women have faced significant barriers to accessing contraceptives in the U.S. and that recent declines in the teen pregnancy rate may be the result of greater access to contraceptives.


November 1, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)

Largest Healthcare Provider on Maine's ACA Marketplace Drops Elective Abortion Coverage

NPR (Oct. 29, 2016): Maine Insurance Co-op Drops Coverage for Elective Abortion Services, by Patty Wight:

Community Health  Options, the largest healthcare provider on Maine's Affordable Care Act online marketplace, has discontinued coverage of elective abortion services.  The insurance co-op claims that it dropped coverage to help make up for $31 million deficit.  Because elective abortions aren't defined as an "essential health benefit" providers are not required to include them in ACA insurance plans. Community Health Options also dropped adult vision care, another benefit that is not deemed essential.

A spokesperson for Planned Parenthood was skeptical that dropping abortion coverage would make a big difference in the co-op's bottom line. The average cost of a first trimester abortion is $550 and only 55 women used the benefit last year.

Abortion is the only health service that states are explicitly allowed to ban from ACA exchange policies.  According to the Kaiser Foundation, 25 states ban abortion coverage, and "six of the remaining states that have no ban on abortion coverage did not have any plans that offered coverage in 2016."  Even though Maine doesn't ban marketplace coverage, Community Health Options' decision will negatively impact women's access to coverage in the state.


November 1, 2016 | Permalink | Comments (0)